Core infrastructure renewal must happen ahead of ‘nice-to-have’ projects
News that Lower Hutt needs to spend an additional $270 million over the next decade on its aging water infrastructure - doubling the capital expenditure currently allocated - is a wakeup call to elected officials across the region, according to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central.
"Wellington Water’s report shows that 60 per cent of Lower Hutt’s water infrastructure needs to be renewed in the next three decades, to upgrade assets that are aging, broken, or no longer up to standard," says Chief Executive John Milford.
"We have long been on the record calling for local government to focus on their core mandate of three waters, waste, emergency management, and roads. These are the 'need-to-haves'.
"We’re pleased to see Hutt City Mayor Campbell Barry is, so far, making good on his campaign promise to ensure core infrastructure needs are ‘at the top of the agenda’.
"However, this currently unbudgeted expenditure cannot be used to justify hiking rates. The council must look hard at what it’s funding.
"The Productivity Commission’s recent report shows that core activities are receiving a declining share of local government spending, while nice-to-have, non-core activities are growing the most.
"As I’ve said before, calling something a ‘nice-to-have’ doesn’t mean it’s inherently wasteful. But first, we’ve got to target investment on the things local government is there to provide.
"We must learn from the recent failures of Wellington City’s pipes - this work can’t happen soon enough."